rugby union

All Blacks coach under fire for domestic violence comments


All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is under fire for attempting to justify the selection in his Rugby Championship squad of a player charged over domestic violence.

Crusaders winger Sevu Reece was charged with "male assaults female", the New Zealand legal term for spousal abuse, after injuring his wife in a drunken assault last year.

Reece was not convicted because the judge who heard his case considered there were mitigating circumstances and a conviction would have a detrmimental effect on his professional career.

The then 21-year-old had signed a contract with the Irish club Connacht but the club rescinded the contract because of Reece's court appearance. He was also let go by his Waikato province in New Zealand but was later picked up by the Crusaders and became the leading try-scoring in Super Rugby this season with 15.

That led to his call up to the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship but the selection has been opposed by anti-domestic violence groups and others.

In a radio interview Saturday, Hansen — a former policeman — attempted to explain the selection but his comments have inflamed opponents.

(Domestic violence is) "a big part of our society unfortunately," Hansen told Radio Sport. "So rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this.

"And having been a policeman, I've seen plenty of it. And I know it's not just restricted to males assaulting women, women assault males too. It's not a gender thing, it's a New Zealand problem."

Hansen's assertion that female assaults on males are commonplace is not supported by statistics. He suggested the Crusaders and All Blacks were well-placed to provide the "rehabilitation" Reece needs to overcome anger and violence.

"He's come into an environment in the Crusaders where they've put a lot of things around him that have helped educate him, they've helped him understand that to be a good person you have to do certain things and by doing that he's shown a lot of remorse for what he's done," Hansen said.

"He's been actively trying to better himself and also when he comes into our environment we already have a policy that better people make better All Blacks so we continue that with each and every individual we've got."

Feminist columnist Alison Mau attacked Hansen's "fervent but flawed and misguided evaluation of domestic violence."

"Yes, Hansen was a cop back in the day but what he saw on the beat back then does not change the facts," she said. "Men do report violence from female partners, but it tends to be far less severe than women experience, and men do not generally live in perpetual fear for their lives as a consequence."

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Family and domestic violence is a serious problem in New Zealand. Selecting a player charged (but not convicted because he's a good rugby player) with domestic abuse for the All Blacks squad sends entirely the wrong message. Especially considering how ingrained that team is to the culture and image of the country.

To put it another way, imagine the power of the message if he hadn't been selected because of his past. Hard on Reece, sure, but hey, don't bash your girlfriend around.

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The coach was right. Women DO assault men. He said nothing about how common it was, or whether or not it is as common, less common, or more common than men assaulting women. Truth is it is hard to quantify. There are myriad social pressures on men to NOT report when they are assaulted by female parters. Women who report assault are believed, respected, and get sympathy. Men in the same situation are ridiculed and their manhood is questioned.

As for the player, charged does not equal convicted. Need a court case first.

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As for the player, charged does not equal convicted. Need a court case first.

Did you read the article?

The assault took place in a public place and would have continued had a doorman from a nearby establishment not intervened. Reece was given a $750 fine, and discharged without conviction, because as I said, he is good at rugby.

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Like I said, not convicted. Apparently the judge saw it as a couple of drunken people in a scuffle. He expressed remorse, apology was accepted by the victim, etc. Certainly not "domestic violence" in the commonly understood meaning of the term.

In any case, what the coach said still stands. No wrong, just a politically incorrect opinion.

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Hey lets just say it as it is...

The judge didnt want to convict him as it would have a negative effect on his career?

Well lets NOT convict anyone then. Apparantly, it has a negative effect on your career folks!!! (Isn’t that the desired effect/punishment?)

This judge woke up and screwed his lego head on backwards.

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Domestic violence is domestic violence. If you want to mince words, the legal term was 'male assaults female.'

Here are the bullet points,

He pleaded guilty. The female victim suffered injuries and bruising to her face, waist and knee. He was pulled off by a bouncer. A club he was supposed to go play for said a conviction would see his contract torn up, amounting to a mitigating circumstance in the judge's decision. They went ahead and tore it up anyway, because, you know, standards.

Go ahead and minimalise it all you want, but I feel his is a bad example to show NZ youth, so many of whom idolise these players.

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Sorry, I didn't respond to your point about what the coach said. In that, we are in agreement.

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A conviction absolutely should have a negative effect on his career (as should any criminal conviction).

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